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Common Loons: Nest-building

6-30-14  Loons #1 - nest building 496Naturally Curious posts for the next four days will be devoted to Common Loons. They are nesting now, eggs are hatching, chicks are swimming, parents are feeding – life is good on ponds and lakes in the north woods, and I would love to share this magical time with you.

Both members of a pair of Common Loons contribute to nest-building in May or June. Their ground nest is often built on the sheltered side of an island, facing the mainland. It is usually within just a few feet of the water, eliminating the necessity for the loons to walk very far. (The position of their legs far back on their bodies is advantageous when it comes to diving and swimming, but makes walking very challenging.) Both male and female share the building of the nest, throwing submerged vegetation from the water onto the nest site or pulling it from the water while sitting on the nest. Material continues to be added to the nest throughout incubation. Nearly two feet in diameter, a nest can take a week or so to build. Successful nests (those that produce chicks) are often re-used from year to year.

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8 responses

  1. Bill Farr

    Hi Mary… You must be loving the 400 mm, which should allow you plenty of distance between you & the loon. BF…

    June 30, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    • Absolutely, Bill! No comparison with the 100-400! Thanks so much for recommending it. And you’re right, I do keep my distance, even though the next couple of photos on my blog may not look like it!

      June 30, 2014 at 6:54 pm

  2. Susan Holland

    Beautiful photograph!

    June 30, 2014 at 4:30 pm

  3. Excellent! I don’t have an opportunity to see this close to home so am glad you chose to tell – and illustrate – their story.

    July 1, 2014 at 11:07 pm

  4. What an exciting opportunity for you, Mary. I’m glad you could get “close-up” with your new camera lens to share with us. Are loons really shy? Will they abandon nests if there is too much human activity?

    July 3, 2014 at 1:40 am

    • Eliza, yes, loons like their privacy. I do a lot of my loon photography on a pond where there are lots of kayakers, so the loons are quite used to people. Sometimes they dive and come up literally within a few feet of my canoe. I can photograph from afar with my lens — the last thing I would want is to disturb them. They will and have abandoned nests because of human activity, so I’m really careful. Photographers can be really intrusive, unfortunately.

      July 3, 2014 at 2:47 am

      • Humans can be quite ignorant around wildlife. That’s why your work and blog are so important. We just need to get more folks following it! Education is utmost!

        July 3, 2014 at 4:52 pm

  5. claudia rose

    Hi Jane and Carolyn, I love the posts I get from Mary Holland. I guess she lives in Vermont. She finds the most interesting nature topics to write about. I have it sent to my email address. I will send all the ones in this segment about loons. She might know what the loons were up to on Saturday. joy, c

    July 15, 2014 at 2:01 am

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